When I was growing up, my mother abhorred the idea of a TV in the living room. So our television was in my parents’ bedroom.
My bedroom was next to theirs. On winter-fall Sunday afternoons, that meant I was within full earshot of mom and dad’s viewing of the ups – and many downs – of the Philadelphia Eagles.
I remember clearly sitting at my desk and hearing not only the audio of the broadcast (Tom Brookshire) but also the encouraging comments of my parents, both mega-Eagles fans”
“…go, go GO! GOOO!”
“Get ‘im… get ‘im… GET ‘IM!”
“NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOO!”
Through this din I would shoulder on, trying to study World War II, the tragedies of William Shakespeare and the Periodic Table of the Elements.
I’m not sure where my dad got to be so attached to the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was devout. And my mom was right there beside him. When it came to the Eagles, they were a match made in heaven.
What pains me at this stage in my life is the level of distain I had for it all back then.
I’m not even sure why.
Maybe it was the struggle of trying to study with all that cheering (or, more accurately, groaning) going on.
Maybe it was growing up with two brothers who played football and being dragged to games I didn’t understand and wasn’t interested in.
Maybe it was how all-encompassing it was: If we went to a party or a dinner where a game was on, every other kind of interaction ceased. Further, even courteous conversation was shushed, with all eyes glued to the screen.
Maybe it was the general sense of asserting my independence. If my parents liked it, I must immediately dislike it.
I don’t know. But for years, I hated the Eagles and had no interest.
When our kids were little, I started gravitating toward the game.
Something about it caught my attention. It wasn’t like other sports on TV: Baseball was a snoozefest, full of long stretches where seemingly nothing was happening. Basketball and hockey had the opposite drawback: too frantic.
Football, however, was accessible. I "got" it.
It was like watching an hour-long war. Turf gained. Turf lost. Field soldiers each doing his job. Coaches overseeing the big picture. Plenty of plotting and planning, with enough wiggle room for Lady Luck to sweep in and take a hand.
I learned to love it.
And fortunately, I came to appreciate the game while my parents were still alive.
So I now have the fond memories of enjoying televised games with Mom & Dad. As do our girls, who remember nestling in and cheering the Eagles.
Which makes this year all the more poignant.
I know my parents have their eyes set on Minneapolis from up above. They have dyed their white wings to a slick Midnight Green. I also know my sister-in-law Kathy is right there with them, a green Eagles hat stretched over her halo.
I’ve heard of fans who wept at last week’s win.
I screamed my voice raw over the game. But when the final gun sounded and we emerged on top – underdogs all the way – I did not cry.
This week, however, knowing what I know, living what I’ve lived, growing up in the house I grew up in, having the Eagles-fan parents I had…
Should the stars align and we come out on top.
Well I my joy may just overflow onto my cheeks.